Sotheby and Self

Mr. Sotheby keeps his own company. But when a strange figure that looks and acts like him starts prancing into his life, several questions are raised: is this 'oneself' all he is cracked up to be? Who is the woman from another age that keeps haunting him and his other self? Is Derek Sotheby the man he thought he was, or is he the fading shadow of the man that he used to be? - Finished!

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6. Ad Astra per Alas Porci

 

                On rounding the top of the staircase, the door to number 29 was being pulled open at that precise moment. A few words were being spluttered out from behind the door and the sounds of several boxes being kicked out of the way rang vibrantly down the whitewashed corridor that opened to the elements along the west face. Beth and her new friend walked side by side along to the second door on the right, now standing open for them, the owner of the flat nowhere to be seen,

“Do come in!” growled a voice, “I’m not going to eat you,”

Beth looked at Derek and shrugged, “I suppose today might be my lucky day. You never know, Mr. Sotheby could be the saviour of all double glazing!”

“I can tell you what,” added Derek, eying the decades of mess surrounding the practically unused front door, “I doubt he’ll be the saviour of anything else. I wouldn’t be too optimistic.”

Beth, ignorant of Derek’s pessimism, was stood casually, trying to source the spot where Mr. Sotheby was sat,

“Mr. Sotheby?” she called.

Silence greeted her. Derek was stooping, picking up a crumpled magazine dated five years previously,

“Mr. Sotheby?” he called, “I would be grateful if you could show me this boiler!”

“Derek!” scowled Beth, under her breath, “Isn’t that a little rude?”

“I think he’s being pretty rude!” retorted Derek,

“Rude? Ha!” called the voice again, through the low door on their right, “Ad astra per alas porci!”

“What?” hissed Beth,

“To the stars on the wings of a pig,” snorted Derek, “Now he’s quoting John Steinbeck!”

“What’s that got to do with the boiler?” cried Beth, turning to face Derek,

“I don’t know. I think we’re supposed to work that out.”

“No you’re not!” called the voice again, “I said it because I am mad, not rude.”

Beth jumped, “I say,” she stuttered, “I think he is mad. Should we leave?”

“Leave?” Laughed Derek, “I have a boiler to fix!”

“No you don’t!” cackled the voice again from the next room, “I’d rather freeze to my chair!”

“Come on then!” grimaced Beth, tugging at Derek’s sleeve, “Mr. Sotheby creeps me out, how can he hear everything we say?” she was whispering now, “I don’t think he wants any double glazing!”

“I do! Just come back another day if you want me to buy it!”

“Right, that’s it!” gasped Beth, running for the door. Derek had no choice but to follow her, leaving the lone, bodiless voice behind them.

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